When Todd Reirden started to think of places where he could take the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals coach didn’t have to think hard to figure out what he wanted to do with the oldest existing trophy in professional sports.
Reirden, who lived in Valparaiso for 12 years during his professional career, will be bringing the Stanley Cup back to the Region on July 26 in a series of events in Crown Point, Dyer and Valparaiso.
Reirden lived in Valparaiso with his wife Shelby and their son Travis was born in Crown Point. Getting the chance to return to the Region after winning the Cup as an assistant coach with the Capitals means a lot to Reirden, who was named Washington's coach late last month.
“We’re going to Crown Point to help build the game of hockey, then going to Dyer to the closest rink for an equipment drive and then we’re going to Valparaiso and that beautiful outdoor facility (Urschel Pavilion),” Reirden said. “To be able to bring the Cup back to the area and to build the game, it’s my way of giving back to the game I love.”
Reirden said on Tuesday morning that he gets 16 hours with the Cup and that caretakers are present during that time to make sure the trophy stays out of harms way. Reirden and his family will begin their day with a photo shoot on the shores of Lake Michigan before heading to the Lake County Courthouse at 1 N. Courthouse Square in Crown Point. The Cup is scheduled to be there from 10 a.m. until noon and the public is invited for photo opportunities.
“Each place we go to will start with some photos with the local fire and police departments,” Reirden said. “We’ll do that in Crown Point and then we’re going to walk it down the block to where they are doing an outdoor facility. We’ll take a picture with the mayor and the Crown Point High School hockey team at the future home of outdoor hockey.”
Reirden’s next stop will be at the Midwest Training and Ice Center in Dyer where he will host a private event for the Midwest Blackbirds as well local high school hockey teams. Reirden has also invited the Falcons Hockey Association, Deerfield High School Warriors and the Chicago Young Americans, three hockey associations that he played with when growing up in Deerfield, Illinois.
Each player will come dressed in a jersey and with a piece of new or used hockey equipment to donate to the Learn to Play program. Each team will pose together for pictures with the Cup and get a chance to talk hockey with Reirden while he signs autographs.
“We are so thrilled to have this opportunity to bring Todd back here and to bring the Stanley Cup,” Midwest Training and Ice Center owner Eileen Butcher said. “We haven’t been able to get the Cup here before when the Blackhawks won. Todd is such a downhome guy. He’s been here before; he brings his ring to the rink for everyone to see. We’re just so grateful for this opportunity.”
Butcher said that all the equipment donated during the event will be redistributed to families of beginner hockey players.
“It’s a thrill to be able to offer that for some people who are just getting into the game,” Butcher said.
Reirden will then bring the Cup to the Urschel Pavilion in Valparaiso from 4-6 p.m. for a public viewing and photo opportunity similar to the Crown Point event. Mayor Jon Costas is expected to attend along with the Valparaiso High School hockey team.
“It’s great to have these events,” Reirden said. “The fans really connect with the Cup. ... These will be amazing events and people will get the chance to see it and pick it up.”
Reirden’s trip back to the Region is a break in action for the first-time NHL head coach.
Reirden played professionally from 1994-2007 and appeared in 183 NHL games over parts of five seasons. He then went into coaching, working as an assistant at Bowling Green and then the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL. After serving as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins' top affiliate for over a year, he became an assistant with the parent club for four seasons.
In 2014, he joined the Capitals coaching staff.
Reirden replaces Barry Trotz, who resigned shortly after the Stanley Cup victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Trotz was later named the coach of the New York Islanders.
“(This summer) has been very good to us,” Reirden said. “First to the Capitals and then to the Reirden family. I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone right now. With what our organization has gone through and what I’ve gone through to climb the ladder, it’s a great situation to be in. It’s going to be a challenge, but the team is excited to come back and have a chance to repeat.”